Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Japanese HTV-5 Spacecraft Mission Ends with Fiery Re-entry

HTV Mission Control Room during the HTV5 unberthing operations (Credit: JAXA)

The Japanese HTV-5 spacecraft brought to an end a five week mission into space on Tuesday, burning up in the atmosphere after making a targeted deorbit maneuver. Over the course of its five weeks in space, Kounotori 5 delivered over six metric tons of cargo to the Space Station and picked up trash and three no longer needed external payloads for a fiery disposal in the skies over the Pacific Ocean.

Following a slight delay, Expedition 45 Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of JAXA, backed up by NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren, commanded the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to release JAXA’s H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)-5 from the International Space Station at 12:53 p.m. EDT while the spacecraft was flying 256 miles above the Southern Pacific, after it unberthed from the space station at 7:12 a.m. EDT.

The spacecraft performed three deorbit maneuvers and reentered into the atmosphere at 20:33 UTC on Sept. 29. Surviving debris impacted in a remote location in the Pacific Ocean between 20:47 and 21:13 UTC, away from land masses and shipping lanes.

HTV-5 carried a variety of experiments and supplies to the space station, including the NanoRacks External Payload Platform, which can house multiple investigations in the open-space environment of the station, and the CALorimetric Electron Telescope investigation, an astrophysics mission that measures high energy particles to search for dark matter and the origin of cosmic rays.

The Canadarm2 robotic arm backs away from the just released “Kounotori” HTV-5 resupply ship. Credit: NASA TV
The Canadarm2 robotic arm backs away from the just released “Kounotori” HTV-5 resupply ship.
Credit: NASA TV

HTV-5 also delivered materials to support the Twins Study, a compilation of 10 investigations designed to gain broader insights into the subtle effects of and changes that occur in the environment of space as compared to that of Earth by studying two individuals who have the same genetics, but are in different environments. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is participating from the space station while his identical twin Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, is participating on Earth. The study includes a suite of integrated human space physiology and cellular-level experiments.

The next visiting vehicle inbound for a rendezvous with the Space Station, Progress M-29M, was moved to its Baikonur Launch Pad on Tuesday, sitting atop a Soyuz U rocket that will take the craft into orbit on Thursday for a six-hour rendezvous with the Space Station.

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